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What Are Surge Emotions?

It goes without saying that the first few months of recovery can be the most difficult. You’ll be going through rehab, aftercare programs, detox, and more. It’s not uncommon for you to experience a wide range of emotions during this time period; some might be familiar, others may not be. Surge emotions are something you might experience during this time, and are essentially your normal emotions and feelings but much stronger. The slightest irritation might spark rage, and the slightest bit of affection might make you feel like you’re in love. While surge emotions may seem harmless at times, it’s important to recognize what they are and how you can control them.

The Brain and Your Emotions

Addiction operates by changing the balance of the chemistry in your brain. Many substances trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin in extreme amounts, causing euphoric highs. However, your body gets used to these chemicals at these unhealthy amounts, and once you’re off drugs, your body can’t reproduce the same levels it once did. This can cause our emotions to seem strange and sometimes extreme, as we need dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters to help regulate them. If you notice your emotions are a little difficult to keep in check, know it’s not your fault. However, there are things you can do to help reign in surge emotions.

Doctor and psychologist Robert Plutchik designed the now-famous Plutchik Wheel of Emotions. Surge emotions would likely fall in the inner-most ring.

What You Can Do

The most important thing you can do is acknowledge that surge emotions are happening. Many ignore surge emotions, believing simply that this is what emotions are like when they’re not using drugs. However, surge emotions are temporary, and if you work on managing them they’ll be gone before you know it. Staying vigilant is important in many aspects of recovery, and watching out for surge emotions is no different. The sooner you realize your reactions and emotions are exaggerated, the sooner you can get back to feeling normal and reigning them in.

Other things you can do to combat surge emotions are useful in almost every part of recovery. Meditate and reflect on how you feel and act, and you might be able to pinpoint the source of your surge emotions. Keep a journal and look back at how your emotions might have been exaggerated. Talk and spend time with others, and you’ll feel your normal emotions coming back before you know it. Surge emotions are a normal part of recovery, but dealing with them can be rewarding in its own right.